Free Minds & Free Markets

Stossel: End Racial Preferences at Colleges?

Asians sue Harvard for discrimination in a case that may end college racial preferences.

Asian Americans are suing Harvard for illegally discriminating against them.

The lawsuit forced Harvard to release admissions data which reveal that admitted Asian applicants score 22 points higher on the SAT than whites and 63 points higher than blacks.

Harvard admits to using race as a factor in admissions for the sake of diversity. But the school says it does so without any hard quotas or race-based points system—that they merely consider it informally. Past Supreme Courts have allowed that.

But the Asian Americans suing Harvard argue that the university gives them artificially low personality ratings to keep their admissions rate down. They say Harvard treats Asian Americans as "boring little grade grubbers."

Harvard's data show that a typical Asian applicant is less than half as likely to get a good personality rating in Harvard's admissions process than a typical black applicant.

Lee Cheng of the Asian American Legal Foundation says the data show clear, systematic discrimination based on race.

"Harvard didn't just use race as one of many factors. It was the determinative factor," Cheng tells Stossel.

Many experts say that Harvard's case may reach the Supreme Court. If it does, then the court—with President Trump's new appointees—might strike down all college racial preferences. Ending racial preferences would increase the share of Asian and white students in colleges, but decrease the share of black and hispanic students.

Harry Holzer, an economist and Harvard Alum who studies affirmative action, says that would be a big mistake.

"When you have a long history of discrimination based on race, you have to take race into account," Holzer tells Stossel.

But Cheng says Harvard's preferences don't help disadvantaged people.

"Race based affirmative action helps rich people....70 percent of the students of every ethnic group at Harvard come from the top 20 percent of family income," Cheng tells Stossel.

Holzer responds: "It's okay....Race in America matters at any level of income."

But Cheng responds that when wealthy people use race to get a leg up, poor whites and poor Asians get hurt.

He first became passionate about racial discrimination when he faced it in high school. San Francisco had a strict racial quota for admission to the Lowell public magnet high school. Because there were many Chinese kids in the area, Cheng and other Chinese Americans had to score higher than kids of other races.

"I was just shocked," Cheng tells Stossel. "I was just taught in civics and history that in America everybody was supposed to be equal under the law."

Cheng got in, but he says he saw many of his friends get left behind because of racial preferences.

"The kids who were negatively affected ... were the kids of the dishwashers and the seamstresses and who lived in Chinatown, who were very poor."

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  • Brett Bellmore||

    Well, that's brilliant: "where you have a long history of" racial discrimination, you have to continue racially discriminating?

    You have to replace the whites only drinking fountains with blacks only drinking fountains?

    The only way to end the Hatfield/McCoy feud was for the McCoys to rack up a larger body count for a while?

    This is just the "affirmative action" industry's way of saying, "Racial discrimination today, racial discrimination tomorrow, racial discrimination forever."

  • Rob Misek||


  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Of course the dirty little secret is that the Progressive Left is racist, has always been racist, and will always be racist. It's built into the belief system. They would still be championing eugenics if That Despicable Austrian hadn't put the stink on it, and I have come to the (revolting) conclusion that a belief in eugenics is a good part of what drives their passion for 'abortion rights'.

    Mind, I believe that abortion should be legal, but I have come to the unhappy belief that any organization that concerns itself with 'providing abortion services' to the poor should be viewed with deep suspicion. The Kermit Gosnell case shows that such people don't actually give a damn about the health and safety of poor brown women, so long as their babies get terminated.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Most progtards I know refuse to acknowledge Gosnell's existence, or claim he is unique.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    They had better make goddamned sure he's unique, or that if there are others that those others are brought to book by pro-abortion activists.

    But they won't. Which is one of many reasons why, though I think abortion should be legal, I fully expect it to be broadly banned or very tightly regulated (usually amounting to banning) across the United States. Maybe Nevada will hold out.

  • Teddy Pump||

    "When life begins is a scientific, not a philosophic or theological, question: Life begins when the chromosomes of the sperm fuse with those of the ovum, forming a distinctive DNA complex that controls the new organism's growth. This growth process continues unless a natural accident interrupts it or it is ended by the sort of deliberate violence Planned Parenthood sells."

    -George Will, Political Pundit & Atheist

  • DarrenM||

    I tend to think of two definitions of "life". Biological "life" is from conception. It's a new and unique member of the species Home Sapiens. Metaphysical "life" is subjective. This is the idea of "ensoulment" or when a life becomes a "person". The line is constantly being redrawn.

  • Teddy Pump||

    According to the Kabbalah, (ancient Jewish Mysticism), the soul descends to fill the physical fertilized egg almost immediately!

    The reason why abortion is so horrible is that every soul has a Divine Timetable & is born into a certain family, in a certain place and at a certain time to balance karma from past lives & also to fulfill a Divine Mission & possibly make their Ascension back to the Heart of God & live eternally like the great spiritual Masters like Jesus & Buddha who have triumphed over Time & Space...When a soul is aborted, the whole Timetable is messed up & they have to go back up & wait, sometimes for thousands of years to come back again....Alas, that is the problem with Free Will given to humans!

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    OTOH, Thomas Aquinas asserted that the soul did not enter the infant body until more than three weeks after birth.


    While we are learning about the brain all the time, what we know about the MIND could be engraved on the head of a pin.

    With a jackhammer.

  • DrZ||

    Life begins when the youngest child moves out of the house and the dog dies.

  • Incredulous||


    "Affirmative action" is racism, plain and simple.

  • creech||

    "They say Harvard treats Asian Americans as "boring little grade grubbers."
    As opposed to mediocre SAT scoring heroic survivors of school shootings.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    It would be hilarious if Hogg were set up on a phony rape charge by some feminazi bitch, and expelled.

  • ||

    I don't even think he has enough material to approach a girl let alone get close enough to fiddle around with the bra.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    Ending affirmative action is exactly what the alt-right advocates. And since the alt-right consists of bigoted white supremacists, it's obviously the wrong thing to do.


    PS — Even though David Hogg is a white male, Harvard was still correct to admit him with his 1270 SAT score because of his activism for common sense gun safety legislation.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Good to know I outscored David Hogg. Though I'm not that sold on the SATs anyway.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    SATs are a tool. They provide a benchmark for telling whether straight As mean a goddamn thing. Now, whether a college USES that tool appropriately is another question.

  • Teddy Pump||

    Hogg & common sense in the same sentence???...Naw, I'm not buying it!

  • Incredulous||

    "Even though... is a white male,"

    Haha, racism and sexism seems so natural to modern "liberals." Not even shy about it.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    But the Asian Americans suing Harvard argue that the university gives them artificially low personality ratings to keep their admissions rate down.

    You know who else bombed Pearl Harbor?

  • SQRLSY One||

    Yes, the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor, I learned that by watching "Animal House".

    I have done the Germans one better, and I have bombed my own underpants!!! The chocolate Butterfinger Bar has landed!

    From every mountain side,
    You smell it free!!!

  • No Longer Amused||

    They are "boring little grade grubbers" and that's a huge step up from "woke precious snowflake." Discrimination is discrimination; put an end to it.

  • A Lady of Reason||

    I hope it does end them! Affirmative action is not equality... Just the bigotry of low expectations and reverse discrimination...

  • Ken Shultz||

    I think it's pretty obvious why it's appropriate for Asians to sue--it's because they're not the majority.

    Racial discrimination is perfectly acceptable so long as the victims are the majority race, and that's because . . . um . . . penaltax!

    Asians aren't the majority, though, so racial discrimination against them is completely unacceptable. And if you don't understand why it's perfectly acceptable to discriminate against historically powerful groups on the basis of their privileged race, then you must be poor white trash. And there's obviously nothing anyone can do to help you because your parents were poor white trash and your grandparents were poor white trash--so there's no way your cracker ass belongs in college anyway.

  • Demosthenes||

    "Ending racial preferences would increase the share of Asian and white students in colleges, but decrease the share of black and hispanic students."

    This statement is a bit ambiguous. If it means, the share attending Harvard (and other selective institutions) would decrease, that is likely true. But if it means that the share attending college at all would decrease (as the wording suggests), that is possibly false.

    In fact, it may probably be false given the evidence that one of affirmative action's main effects is to re-allocate college-going students across institutions, rather than drawing minority students into college -- e.g. if Harvard can't discriminate, those minorities not admitted will end up at Tufts or Rice or Penn State, not out of college altogether.

  • Eddy||

    Penn State already has an outreach program. Located in the showers.

  • creech||

    That slippery soap sure seemed to affect the receivers and this year's passing game.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Wrong. Penn State has a reach around program. And it start around age 9.

  • Brandybuck||

    Or simply local state college.

  • Trainer||

    Only in Ivy League colleges. Anyone can still go to thousands of colleges no matter their race. No one is stopping anyone from going to college.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I will note that Howard University did accept me. I still wish them well though.

  • Zeb||

    And you don't do people any favors when you let them into programs that they don't qualify for based simply on their abilities. A lot of people who could excel at a state school don't do so well at a top tier school.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Then there's the vexing question of, if brown people with poorer SATs are being admitted to elite schools, does it do them any good overall?

    I've seen arguments both ways, tough the evidence seems to be that it harms them.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    Take color or national origin out of it for a moment. Put anyone in an environment where the skills demanded are beyond them, and the probability of failure is inevitably high. Put anyone in a situation where they are likely to fail, and the inevitable result is demoralization. In education our society creates this set of false expectations: you have to go to the "best" colleges; no, you don't. The "best" colleges are typically just incubators for the next generation of the elite. You can get the education you really need elsewhere, and there is really nothing wrong or debasing about learning trades if that's what it comes to. The rich love to look down their noses at "the help", but if not for "the help", what on earth would the helpless do?

  • DarrenM||

    The school will end up lowering requirements so some will pass who would normally have failed. In the long run, expectations will be reduced. This will result in a declining quality of education.

  • Eddy||

    "They say Harvard treats Asian Americans as "boring little grade grubbers.""

    What's the alternative? Boring SJW crybabies?

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    But Harvard LIKES boring SJW crybabies. Boring SJW crybabies are unlikely to ask their instructors any embarrassing questions. Like, "If Rent Control is such a good idea, why is it that every city that enacts it soon has a massive housing shortage?"

  • Brandybuck||

    There were several Chinese families in my home town. The parents came here uneducated and dirt poor. They pulled themselves up through hard work and savings. They knew the value of education and made sure their children were educated. The result of which most of my Chinese classmates in school managed to make it into an Ivy League school.

    No, they didn't have many extra-curricular activities, other than studying. So what?

    The message being sent by Harvard is to avoid the hard work and just ride through life on the color of your skin. Perfect attitude from the coastal white fucks running this country.

  • Brian||

    I'm so torn on this "Asian discrimination" thing.

    On the one hand: yeah, they've been targets of discrimination and abuse by the government.

    In the other hand: they're so driven, and damn good at math.

  • Eddy||

    "Look, it's just an unfortunate sociological fact - asians have worse personalities than blacks."

  • Ska||

    They can play classical piano but can't dance for shit!

  • Trainer||

  • Eddy||

    "Hmmm...their personalities seem fine to me, let's make an exception to our usual rules..."

  • Echospinner||

    Classical piano. Well not just that.

    (Watch her right foot. Those are 1/16th note triplets played between the hi hat and snare. Very difficult drum piece)

  • ||

    "When you have a long history of discrimination based on race, you have to take race into account," Holzer tells Stossel.

    Absolutely! Let's punish one group of people and reward a different group, neither of whom had nothing to do with the "long history of discrimination". That is what a Harvard educated man thinks is self-evident.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    That is what a Harvard educated man thinks is self-evident.

    You prefer Liberty, Grove City, Biola, or Ouachita Baptist?

  • Eddy||

    I bet Liberty University doesn't even care about your personality.

  • Eddy||

    And you keep going on about these smaller colleges, does this mean that you prefer HITLER?

  • EscherEnigma||

    They require an essay and "reference letters, community service, and leadership, may also be helpful or required by the admissions committee."

    So nah. They care about that stuff just like other liberal arts universities.

    You want a university that doesn't care about "personality"? Find one that only looks at quantitative measurements (GPA, SAT, ACT, things like that). The moment you get essays and such fluffy things in the mix you have a university that's not just admitting a student body, it's curating a student body.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    My Community College just required that I finished HS. They actively told me that they'd prefer if I was shittier.

  • Trainer||

    My kids were homeschooled and our community college didn't even require they finish high school. My middle daughter is now working on her masters degree and works as an adviser at that community college she went to and they still don't require someone to finish high school to go there.

  • Echospinner||

    Do they offer anything besides liberal arts? I looked up Liberty once. I think Nursing is about as technical as they get.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    You just can't help yourself, can you? Unregenerate idiot.

  • Incredulous||

    Two wrongs make a right.

  • DarrenM||

    Let's play "Who do we discriminate against this week?"

  • Ordinary Person||

    They shouldn't recognize racial classification. These "Asian" students seem to want to have their cake and eat it too. The applications should be stripped of any reference to race. The colleges should be able to to consider personality traits in the admissions process along side test scores. The people who excell at taking tests would just have to start excelling at being cool.

  • Ordinary Person||

    What does it mean to be Asian? You're already on the road to racism if you think in these terms.

  • Zeb||

    Yeah, Asia is a damn big place. "Asian" isn't a very good label. Are we talking about Iraqi or Korean?

  • Ordinary Person||

    Racial classification is a sloppy, imprecise, unhelpful virtually meaningless delineation. It holds so much power over us because humans are sloppy thinkers. Our brains demand simple delineations. Race is much more of a social construct. You can move around the pieces all you want but until you exercise this cancerous thinking from our culture you're just spinning your wheels.

  • $park¥ The Misanthrope||

    until you exercise this cancerous thinking

    You're doing a fine job of exercising some cancerous thinking.

  • ||

    Race is a social construct?

    Personality too?


  • Skyhawk||

    Like gender, race is not a 'social construct'. When an archeologist and dig up bones that are 1000's of years old easily determine what gender and race the person was, it's science, not a social construct.

  • TJM||

    Shouldn't private colleges be able to discriminate all they want? The problem is government involvement in loans and grants.

  • CatoTheChipper||

    In 2003, Justice O'Connor wrote in the majority opinion in the Grutter case, "We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today." In a speech delivered in 2007, a year after her retirement, Justice O'Connor herself had said the Grutter majority "had tried to be careful in stressing that affirmative action should be a temporary bandage rather than a permanent cure."

    Justice O'Connor did not foresee the success of the post-modern philosophy in shaping the progressive movement and its capture of the Democratic Party.

    The progressive movement has become a coalition of special interests dedicated to the principle that America is essentially a white Christian patriarchy that oppresses persons of color, women, non-Christians, and others who do not conform to the dictates of the patriarchy. Recognizing the widely accepted narrative that the achievements and average success of East Asians and Jews equal or exceed those of whites, the progressive movement has taken to considering such people to be honorary white Christians for certainly the white patriarchy must deem them to be honorary white Christians in the same sense that Hitler deemed Arab and Japanese peoples to be honorary Aryans.

    The progressive movement can never allow the system of racial preferences called affirmative action to end. Instead, it seeks to institutionalize such systems.

  • Teddy Pump||


  • EscherEnigma||

    The thing folks arguing against such "informal" racial preferences like to ignore, is that the only way to get rid of them is to get rid of anything other then strict merit-based qualifications.

    That is, GPA, SAT, ACT and other such quantifiable scores on standardized rubrics. The moment you include essays, letters of recommendation, or any sort of vague "metric", you're going to get informal racial preferences, whether you do it intentionally or not.

    Now me? I'd be fine with that. But we shouldn't fool ourselves that getting rid of an acknowledged "informal" racial preference means having no racial preference. It just means that the school will have to pretend it doesn't exist.

  • Eddy||

    You mean no more essays about "How I Spent My Summer Vacation Saving the Rhinos at Daddy's African Nature Preserve?"

    How will minorities ever survive?

  • Eddy||

    Still bitter about being turned down at Harvard? No need to take it out on the English language.

  • EscherEnigma||

    I doubt most universities are going to give up on entrance essays and other such considerations. They like the idea that they're "curating" their student body rather then just admitting them.

    So no. There will still be essays and the like. And there will still be "racial preferences". They just won't be acknowledged.

    The alternative is to drop such "qualitative" entrance requirements and admit folks purely on quantitative metrics. Which again, I'd be fine with, and my Alma Mater does so. But most universities would resist such a thing.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    My only issue is any option being applied via government fiat. In this case, I do not like that the government is getting involved with Harvard's decision making. The move should be towards getting rid of government interference here.

    I truly feel for the Asian students, and also would take no issue with purely quantitative metrics, but only if the institute chooses to do so. I find racial biases such as these to be obnoxious, but I don't know if using the fist of law to handle this is appropriate.

  • Eddy||

    So long as the federal dough is rolling in, they should have to follow a few basic rules like not being racist.

    Get the feds out of education and then let Fair Harvard be as unfair as it likes.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    And this is the direction it should be argued. I think making these arguments here and pushing in this direction is going to further integrate the government into this. This will lead to more interference and less chance of ever recovering from it. The tendrils of government will get in deeper. More bureaucracy will be required. Less chances to escape it's grasp will occur.

    We are making a claim of fairness, one that I understand. And we are saying that they're already involved, so why not be involved further, which I can understand as well. The consequence of this is quite negative, and it's representative of the bits and pieces style of government control that is so common in world history.

  • EscherEnigma||

    You're ignoring (intentionally or not) that the existing policies are the result of decades of government involvement.

    Put simply, if we want to get the government out of telling schools their admissions policies are inappropriate, we have to unwind decades of legislation and precedent. And frankly, there's no reason to think either regulators or judges, at any level, are on-board with that.

    This whole thing is basically a tug-of-war between different branches of the government, with individual schools just being the rope.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I'm not ignoring that, I'm well aware and I put my thoughts about the government involvement above. My fear is that this is a move in the wrong direction. And it may be dealing with an injustice, but also has the consequence of deepening government involvement further.

    So, the question is, do we just say it will never be fixed and so might as well continue deepening the relationship, or should we question the slow shuffle towards further government involvement. I can understand either side, but I think it's a consequence that should be explicitly discussed in a libertarian setting.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Meh. I wrote my response before I saw your response to Eddy. If I'd seen that first, I'd have left well-enough alone.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    It's a fair comment though.

  • Qsl||

    Probably true to an extent, but at least those other "informal" preferences are more fungible than your 23 and Me. It also puts other students in more competition with each other than Asians competing against themselves for the limited number of slots they've been afforded. Hopefully the whole process will be more transparent regardless.

    Next on the chopping block- special preferences given to women.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Except it's that transparency that gets them in trouble. If they didn't rate folks on categories such as "personality" you couldn't do the disparate impact analysis that shows that Asians are scored lower on "personality" in the first place. So since schools are unlikely to abandon the "curating" model of admissions, their defense is going to be to become more obfuscated so that such disparate impact analysis will be fruitless.

    Or to put it another way... so long as disparate impact analysis can show that Harvard is being racist, they only have two defenses: (A) adopt explicit quotas such that disparate impact analysis fails, or (B) adopt a more obfuscated system such that disparate impact analysis fails. (A) is the "more transparent" option, but it's also illegal.

  • DarrenM||

    I wonder how many prospective students just hire someone else to write their "essay".

  • John C. Randolph||

    I think an appropriate remedy would be for Harvard to refund double the amount they charged in fees to any Asian-American applicant while their racial discrimination program has been in effect, and they should be barred from ever receiving any tax money or benefitting from government-backed student loans.


  • EscherEnigma||

    That'd be hilarious.

    It's government involvement that pushed Harvard (and other universities) to enact such policies in the first place, further government involvement and court cases that pushes them to regularly refine and edit their policies as the courts dicker over the difference between discretion and discrimination, and ultimately the government that tells them that they got that distinction wrong. Which will then force them (and all others) to further refine their policies.

    So you're basically saying the government should punish them for trying to cooperate with the government.

  • Echospinner||

    If they were learning anything it would take about one semester of biology for the students to realize that race is a myth. There are geographic differences in DNA but it has little to do with what people call race.

    But snowflakes do not study molecular genetics. The only thing they learn about is is that Rosalind Franklin was cheated out of her nobel by Watson and Crick.

  • Dillinger||

    End. Racial. Preferences.

  • Uncle Jay||

    America cannot afford to eliminate racial preferences.
    It is only through discriminating against certain people can we show the world we don't discriminate against certain people.
    This is just common sense.

  • ||

    Jesus, Holzer.

    Are you for friggin real?

  • ||

    Cheng > Holzer on this one.

  • Sevo||

    "Harry Holzer, an economist and Harvard Alum who studies affirmative action, says that would be a big mistake. When you have a long history of discrimination based on race, you have to take race into account," Holzer tells Stossel."

    An economist commenting on racial admission policies.
    Mr Holzer, please STFU.

  • Curly4||

    College should be based upon the ability to do the work which would be generally based upon GPA and not race nor the ability to pay. By using Race, national origin, income or any other criteria other than the ability to do the work and earn the degree will coarse many highly qualified students to be missed and many average students to take their place. I am not saying that the average student should not get higher educations but the best students should get the best schools and the other get the less quality schools. I am saying this even though I am one of the at best average students. I can say that the two year college that I went to I did not have to borrow any money nor did I have to take out loans. But that was back in 1960 and I paid $25/credit hour for my educations plus books.

  • DarrenM||

    So, has anyone ever proposed an objective definition of "diversity" or has it always been intended to be strictly subjective and easily abused?

  • DrZ||

    And U.S. citizens of Asian descent keep voting for Democrats, the party of racism, who support racist university admission policies. It makes one question if Asians are really as smart as they are made out to be. Then again Republicans aren't perfect, but I sense that they at least indicate they believe in a meritocracy, but I could be wrong

  • Cloudbuster||

    There will still be race-based admissions. Do you really think our legislative cowards will just stand by when the Black enrollment at elite colleges drops to a statistical rounding error? Because that's what would happen if actual meritocratic admissions were implemented. Our legislative class is entirely in thrall to the social justice narrative. They will never let reality assert itself. If all of a sudden Asians are admitted at supposedly meritocratic levels, it will be Whites that are sacrificed to allow that to happen, not less-qualified Blacks.

  • vek||

    The thing nobody wants to grapple with is that Jews, Asians, and THEN whites are ALWAYS at the top of any meritocratic system, in that order. It all comes down to the fact that that is the order of highest IQs. It is consistent the entire world over, no matter the socio-economic standing, whether a minority or majority group, etc.

    You can argue that IQ/intelligence is not genetic if you want... But in the here and now, even if it is entirely environmental causes, some groups consistently have higher IQs than others. IQ correlates with positive life outcomes more than any other measure ever discovered. For those that believe the differences are not genetic, if you want to see equality, discover the environmental causes of the IQ gaps. It is already known that blacks have life outcomes basically identical to whites with comparable IQs. So close the gap, and all is well.

    Until then, Jews, Asians, and whites will ALWAYS out perform other ethnic groups on average.

  • RomioVIP||

    that's really great


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